Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Mothering Spirit

This Sunday is Mother's Day, and also Pentecost. Recently in my Systematic Theology class, we were given the assignment over a period of several weeks. It was to draft our own creedal statement about each of the Articles of the Nicene Creed. The one I enjoyed the most was the Third Article, I suspect because we often struggle with the work of the Spirit in our midst.

Here are some semi-random thoughts:

The Holy Spirit is the activator of change, the presence of comfort, and source of life. Through the power of the Spirit, God breathed life at creation, and by this same Spirit, the Word became flesh and dwelled among us. By the Spirit, we are given new life, reborn in the waters of baptism, and we are empowered with gifts for ministry. The activity of the Spirit enables us to hear and begin to understand the Word proclaimed among us and for us, in the Scriptures, by the prophets, and in the Word preached and present in the Meal.

I believe that the church is the expression of God’s people attempting to live lives faithful to God’s commands and purposes. Where God’s people gather, God is present in their midst, making their assembly holy. In many ways God’s people fall short of the vision of God’s kingdom here on earth. All believers share a core belief in God which unites us, though different people construct their own frameworks of understanding and interpretation of faith. Often our frameworks prevent us from seeing unity, though God desires us to be one.

I believe that we will one day be united with all the saints, believers who have gone before us, and those who follow us. This will happen in the fulfillment of God’s kingdom in its final state. We are, by virtue of the grace given to us, saints, in spite of our sin, because we have received forgiveness for our sin in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But because we remain sinners, by this grace, we also receive ongoing forgiveness for our sins in our lives lived, whether our sin is one of overt action or a failure to act. It is hard for us to comprehend the universality of God’s forgiveness for us or for others because we seek to justify ourselves in relation to others, but God is faithful and constant.

As I think about the Spirit, I have come in some ways to envision parenting of children, particularly teenagers. It helps of course that this is my current lot, I know. But, as parents we encourage, support, cajole, restrict and sometimes figuratively give a swift kick in the posterior. We are there for tears, laughter, anger, conflicts and confusion. Often I hear people who envision the Spirit as just a giant warm fluffy blanket embracing us. But if this is our only view, we diminish the Spirit and marginalize the Spirit. Just as we tell our kids what they need to do, even when we know it will be hard, so too the Spirit urges in each of our lives.

When I think of the wind of the Spirit blowing in lives, it is often times not at all a comfort. But the Spirit is working for our good. And just like my daughters roll their eyes and blow off listening to me, so too we find times when we do this in lives with God. And when we are reminded time and again, we tune out and go our own path. Yet, the Spirit continues all of this activity even when we make ourselves distant.

I always tell my Lutheran Chicks that while all cannot be fixed, all can and will be forgiven. So often we seek for God to act with mercy towards us, but as hammer for others. Yet, we should see God as loving parent, a parent who does not play favorites, but loves each of us for what is unique, perhaps by the power of the Spirit we will take one step closer to being more like the family we are envisioned to be. A family loved by that constant mothering Spirit. I have been told that no matter how old I am, I am still my mother's child, so it is with my children. And so it is for us with God.

In each of our lives, we need different things. Just as our children cannot thrive under a universal parenting, so it is with each of us. We have different gifts and weaknesses. Yet, there in our midst is the Spirit coaxing out what is in each of us in our turn.

And the Spirit empowers each of us to go forth as disciples in many and varied ways, including mothers. May God bless all mothers and all of those who serve as loving caregivers.


Diane said...

Jurgen Moltman wrote a book about the H.S. called the Spirit of Life. How about That???

LawAndGospel said...

Ah.. Moltmann. I read The Crucifed God for class this past semester.